Former Pitt star Larry Fitzgerald has struggled to produce at his usual level this season as the last remnant of a once formidable Arizona Cardinals team now missing quarterback Carson Palmer and head coach Bruce Arians, who both retired after the 2017 season. But on Sunday, Fitzgerald posted his first 100-yard game of the season and reached a career milestone.
In an NFC West matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, Fitzgerald managed to haul in a season-high eight receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown. His performance helped the Cardinals’ post a come-from-behind win over their division rivals, as they went down 15-3 in the fourth quarter but responded by scoring 15 unanswered points for a much-needed 18-15 victory.
With a clutch touchdown catch that set his team on the path toward a comeback, Fitzgerald also made history, passing Tony Gonzalez for sole possession of seventh place in all-time touchdown receptions in the NFL. Fitzgerald now has 112 touchdowns to Gonzalez’s 111 and is currently chasing Antonio Gates of the Los Angeles Chargers, who has 115 touchdowns and ranks sixth.
While many would expect Fitzgerald’s focus to be on his latest accomplishment during his postgame interview, his mind was elsewhere. Specifically, the city of Pittsburgh and the tragedy that unfolded there over the weekend at the Tree of Life synagogue weighed heavy on his mind.
“I want to give my condolences to the city of Pittsburgh,” he said. “I spent two great years at the University of Pittsburgh, and it breaks my heart that such a great city is going through such a tragic loss like that. I know we’re talking about football, but it’s something that was on my heart.”
Fitzgerald, of course, spent his collegiate career in Pittsburgh, where he still owns school records for receptions, touchdowns and yards in a single season, as he amassed 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns on 92 receptions in 2003. Pitt retired his number in July 2013.
The former Panther now faces a tall task in advancing further up the all-time list for touchdown receptions, as Gates is still active and has star quarterback Philip Rivers throwing to him. Looking past Gates, Fitzgerald would need to score 16 more touchdowns to crack the top five, as Marvin Harrison accounted for 128 touchdown receptions and currently ranks fifth.